Tottenham v Blackburn, Premier League, March 13, 2010
The race for fourth place in the Premier League, and with it a crack at the Champions League qualifying rounds, has been simmering for some time. Spurs now have a golden opportunity to signal their intentions by seeing off a Blackburn side with an away record only marginally better than their great rivals Burnley.
Sam Allardyceâ€™s side may be in twelfth and heading for mid-table respectability but they won just once away from home this season in the league and lost ten of their 14 games away from Ewood Park. In addition, Blackburn have a pretty woeful record against the big teams in the division having failed to beat the top seven in the Premier League in their last 17 attempts.
Their latest reverse came at Anfield 13 days before this game and their visit to White Hart Lane constitutes their first game in March. February was a solid month for Blackburn with wins over Bolton and Hull, following a late January spell that saw them defeat Wigan and Fulham following their Carling Cup semi-final disappointment.
Big Sam has undoubtedly steadied the ship this season but whilst relative safety, they are ten points off the relegation zone, should be applauded, it appears that they have nowhere really to go in the remaining weeks of the season. Allardyce will no doubt clamp down on any thoughts of easing up a little but only a strong finish could see them challenge for a European finish in the league.
Blackburn fans will be encouraged by their sideâ€™s display at Anfield last time out and as they are well rested should provide stern opposition for Spurs. Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic has begun to hit form in recent weeks and the likes of Junior Hoilett, Morten Gamst Pedersen and El Hadji Diouf can make things happen.
David Dunn made a scoring return for the Blackburn reserves in midweek and is hoping for his first Premier League start for two months. At the back there will be much attention paid to Paul Robinson, who makes his return to his former club although he could have plenty to do with Ryan Nelsen definitely out.
The home side also have some key players missing. Midfielders Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas are all out which should see the in-form Gareth Bale continue on the left wing and Luka Modric take up a central midfield position.
Tottenham should have been boosted by Liverpoolâ€™s defeat at Wigan on Monday and with their FA Cup run set to continue with a quarter-final replay against Fulham on Wednesday week there is a lot of optimism surrounding the club. A win here should also come in useful towards the end of the campaign when Spurs face Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in three of their last five games.
Alongside the impressive pair of Bale and Modric, there have been some hugely consistent players at the Lane this season. Heurelho Gomes and Wilson Palacios were excellent at Fulham last week and Michael Dawson is arguably in the midst of the best season of his career.
For all the confidence though, this Spurs side have struggled in games where they are expected to comfortably win. Wolves did the double over Harry Redknappâ€™s team and Stoke also secured all three points at White Hart Lane. (1.92 to be under 2.5 goals, 1.84 to be over.)
In December Tottenham won at Ewood Park 2-0 thanks to a brace from Peter Crouch. The lanky striker should start to combat some of Blackburnâ€™s famous physical presence but it might take a moment of brilliance or a substitute to swing this game Spursâ€™ way.
101gg predicts: Tottenham 2 â€“ Blackburn 1 (6.36)